Strongman Robert Oberst Suffers Shoulder Tendon Tear, Will Forgo Surgery

The World's Strongest Man mainstay will naturally rehab his shoulder.

The 2021 Shaw Classic took place on August 27-28 in Estes Park, CO. It was won by Texas’s Trey Mitchell with the event’s namesake, four-time World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Brian Shaw, finishing in second. However, there was a notable absence from that competition: Robert Oberst.

Shaw announced that Oberst withdrew from the competition on Aug. 23, 2021, due to a “shoulder injury.” The details of that shoulder injury were left to the imagination until Sept. 4, 2021, when Oberst took to his YouTube channel to share his trip to the hospital and follow-up appointment with Dr. Joseph Lynch, a shoulder specialist based in Boise, Idaho.

Oberst sustained a half-centimeter tendon tear — a bursal-sided tear — in the front of his right shoulder. Bursal means that the tear was on the outside of the joint. Check out the full video below:

Heading to the hospital, Oberst explained that he could not lift his right arm past shoulder parallel. The MRI, which could barely fit Oberst’s six-foot, seven-inch frame, made clear he injured himself due to something traumatic — likely sustained during training. Dr. Lynch told Oberst, “I do believe that you strained it and you did probably partially tear it, but it doesn’t appear like it’s retracted from the bone.”

No Surgery Necessary

That lack of the tendon’s retraction from the bone was key to the relief Oberst felt after the visit. Since the tendon did not retract from the bone, Dr. Lynch recommended against rotator cuff repair surgery, which would have a greater potential of ending Oberst’s competitive strongman career. Considering Oberst, admittedly, does not have health insurance, it would have been a costly endeavor for him.


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Instead, they decided to “live with it” by rehabbing the shoulder with a change in activity level to tolerate the pain combined with anti-inflammatories to eventually build back up to a moderate training program with lighter weights.

Continuing Strongman

The timeframe for Oberst to get back to strongman competition depends on how efficient his rehab is. For comparison, the rehab following a rotator cuff surgery was expected to be at least six months. Oberst clarified that he still has time left in his strongman career and is not retiring any time soon. Assuming his rehab goes well, he will likely use the rest of 2021 and perhaps early 2022 to get back into competition shape.

Feature image: @robertoberst on Instagram